Glasses. When I was six years old, I defined my dad by his glasses. It’s humorous now to think about the way I pictured him.
He was a giant pair of oversized spectacles with a vague person living behind them.
I saw him this way because his glasses were the most obvious feature on his face, and I lived in a world defined by the obvious.
My father on the other hand, concerned himself more with the finer details of life, and in doing so, he seemed to overcomplicate every simple idea. When I grew up I was going to be superhero.
Why? Because I wanted to. Where my father would have studied the logistics of it—calculated his every step, made sure the numbers added up— I didn’t worry.
I was the type of kid who would come home from kindergarten and, like any other type of kid, play endlessly with my toys.
In fact, the word “play” does not properly convey how I was able to interact with such simple pieces of shaped plastic. I would become my toys.
I lived inside my childhood afternoons as countless superheroes, dinosaurs and soldiers. Each one I became was just as unique as I was. They each had their own memories, fears and dreams.
I lived as these other people late into the night, and just as my arms were exhausted from climbing “Mt.
Bookcase” and my legs were rubber from running down the “Fifty Million Mile Hallway,” my father would get home from work.
In this sense, my father and I were similar. He would also come home and play with toys, but his toys did not seem nearly as fun.
At the kitchen table stood a chair whose legs warped painfully outward from years of use.
It was in this chair that my father would sit and type on his calculator— pushing in its loose, ink faded buttons for an eternity.
The eyes behind his glasses did not reflect happiness, but they did reflect a determination both strong, yet quiet. Some nights, I would curiously study my father as he calculated.
Sometimes I even asked him the occasional question. He would happily answer, ever enthusiastic to share the various snippets of knowledge he had accumulated throughout his life.
The ratios and inequalities he attempted to explain were difficult enough concepts for my young mind to grasp,
but what baffled me the most was why he would choose to be this “engineer” that he spoke of— a superhero’s life seemed much more appealing.
Some nights though, he did not come home and play with his calculator. Instead, he would go into his bedroom and pick up his guitar.
Within seconds, his music would begin to echo throughout the house.
As if in a trance, I would instinctively follow the sound to its origin and sit as close as possible to my dad.
I could physically feel the music as it brought every single air molecule in contact with my skin screaming to life.
He brought this music into existence out of nothing, just as he had done with me, and I felt as powerful as each and every note he strummed. Maybe my father really was a superhero.
The strong, yet quiet determination that shot out of my father with force as he entered numbers into his calculator also came out as he played guitar,
but in an almost unrecognizable form. Here, it gently flowed out of him, its harshness diluted with something else— pure happiness.
His eyes overflowed with a silent poetry that sang out louder than the music itself.
In these moments, I would forget he even wore glasses— the emotions in his eyes were the most obvious feature on his face.
Then much too soon, the ringing out of the final notes would end and I would instantly become overwhelmed by sleep.
As my dad slowly walked me to bed, I would always have one final question, such as what the difference was between the “big” guitar and the “little” guitar.
“The big guitar is an acoustic guitar,” he answered.
My first reaction was that “acoustic” is a strange word and that I had never heard one like it before.
Recognizing this in my face, my father told me how Acoustics is the study of sound using numbers, but I still could not understand.
After much thought, he finally explained it in the perfect way, “When a sound is created, it runs along until it hits something, but it doesn’t stop there.
It bounces off and continues in a different direction— it’s more tired and not as strong, but it keeps going and never disappears completely. That’s what an echo is,” he explained slowly.
After pausing to make sure I understood, he continued, “and this acoustic guitar was created to make echoes as loud as possible.”
Then he disappears.
I find myself alone in my room, playing an acoustic guitar of my own.
Although memories of my father have faded throughout the years, sometimes, when I play a certain note a certain way, I remember him as if I am six years old again.
Only now, when I picture his face in my mind, I see a big, complicated person behind a tiny, vague pair of glasses.
As I aged, the wrinkles and imperfections of his eyes became the most obvious features on his face, and even later still, it became the pain and sadness that lay hidden behind them.
I focus on every one of these flawed, beautiful details that I was never able to see beyond his glasses, and I feel him in the room with me.
My father created music. My father created me. Even though he is gone, when I strum my guitar and create music of my own, he will never disappear completely.
Finally, I fully understand what an echo is, and how an acoustic guitar makes them as loud as possible.